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Music News

Warner Uses AI to Resurrect Voice and Image of Late French Singer for Film – Billboard

today14/11/2023

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Warner Music has announced plans to use AI technology to recreate the voice and image of legendary French artist, Edith Piaf, in an upcoming full-length animated film. Titled EDITH, the upcoming project is developed by production company Seriously Happy and Warner Music Entertainment in partnership with the Piaf’s estate.

EDITH is set to be a 90-minute film, chronicling the life and career of the famous singer as she traveled between Paris and New York. The voice clone of Piaf will narrate the story, revealing new details about her life never before known.

The AI models used to aid EDITH’s storytelling were trained on hundreds of voice clips and images of the late French singer-songwriter to, as a press release puts it, “further enhance the authenticity and emotional impact of her story.” The story will also feature recordings of her songs “La Vie En Rose” and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” which are part of the Warner Music catalog.

The story will be told through a mix of animation and archival footage of the singer’s life, including clips of her stage and tv performances, interviews and personal archives. EDITH is the brain child of Julie Veille, who previously created other French-language music biographies like Stevie Wonder: Visionnaire et prophète, Diana Ross, suprême diva, Sting, l’électron libre. The screenplay was written by Veille and Gilles Marliac and will be developed alongside Warner Music Entertainment President, Charlie Cohen. The proof of concept has been created, and the team will soon partner with a studio to develop it into a full-length film.

This is not the first time AI voice clones have been used to aid in the storytelling of a film. Perhaps the most cited example of this was Roadrunner (2021), a documentary about the life of chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, who passed away in 2018. AI was used to bring back Bourdain’s voice for about 45 seconds. During that time, a deepfaked Bourdain spoke a letter he wrote during his life aloud to the audience.

Visual AI and other forms of CGI have also been employed in movies in recent years to resurrect the likenesses of deceased icons, including Carrie Fisher, Harold Ramis and Paul Walker. Even James Dean, who died in 1955 after starring in only three films, is currently being recreated using AI for an upcoming film titled Back to Eden.

The EDITH project is likely just the start of estates using AI voice or likeness recreation to rejuvenate the relevance of deceased artists and grow the value of older music catalogs. Already, HYBE-owned AI voice synthesis company Supertone remade the voice of late South Korean folk artist Kim Kwang-seok, and Tencent’s Lingyin Engine made headlines for developing “synthetic voices in memory of legendary artists,” like Teresa Teng and Anita Mui.

Veille says, “It has been the greatest privilege to work alongside Edith’s Estate to help bring her story into the 21st century. When creating the film we kept asking ourselves, ‘if Edith were still with us, what messages would she want to convey to the younger generations?’ Her story is one of incredible resilience, of overcoming struggles, and defying social norms to achieve greatness – and one that is as relevant now as it was then. Our goal is to utilize the latest advancements in animation and technology to bring the timeless story to audiences of all ages.”

Catherine Glavas and Christie Laume, executors of Edith Piaf’s estate, add, “It’s been a special and touching experience to be able to hear Edith’s voice once again – the technology has made it feel like we were back in the room with her. The animation is beautiful and through this film we’ll be able to show the real side of Edith – her joyful personality, her humor and her unwavering spirit.”

Alain Veille, CEO of Warner Music France, says, “Edith is one of France’s greatest ever artists and she is still a source of so much pride to the French people. It is such a delicate balancing act when combining new technology with heritage artists, and it was imperative to us that we worked closely with Edith’s estate and handled this project with the utmost respect. Her story is one that deserves to be told, and through this film we’ll be able to connect with a whole new audience and inspire a new generation of fans.”



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